If you understand nutrition labels you can make healthier and more educated food choices. Simple things to understand, like the ingredient list, which is written from the largest quantity to the smallest, can help you better understand what you are eating. A simple rule of thumb is if you cannot pronounce the ingredients on a nutrition label you may want to think twice about eating it. There are many chemicals and preservatives in food that can cause health problems as well as weight gain so read nutrition labels carefully, so you can understand what you are eating. So how can you better understand nutrition labels? As your personal trainer and health coach I will explain this to you.
The serving size is put on the food label to show the amount of calories, fat and sugar in one serving. All the numbers listed are for one serving only. If you embrace serving size you can better understand nutrition labels and how many calories you are really consuming. The best way to eat just one serving is to measure it out.
The percent of daily value is calculated on the average 2000 calorie diet of a relatively active woman or non active male. If you are more or less active you can add or deduct 500 calories accordingly to monitor your weight.
You want to make sure what you are eating does not contain saturated or trans fats since these are unhealthy fats. You should also understand that a particular food may be fat-free but that does not necessary mean that it is calorie or sugar free so beware of these items.
The list of vitamins and minerals are also percentage based for the daily value. The vitamins on the label are for any vitamin that is in the food or added to the food.
Total carbohydrate list is the total number of both healthy carbohydrates (whole grains) and also unhealthy carbohydrates (refined sugars). It is important to pay close attention to this list, especially if you are working towards a weight loss goal. Remember, not all carbs are bad... some are a dieter's best friend!
Sugar content in processed foods is often high to preserve food. Foods with added sugars are usually high in calories and lack nutrition. Naturally occurring sugars found in whole food like fruit is the only sugar you should be consumed for both health and weight loss reasons. So ditch the sugary sweets for a bathing suit body!
You should be consuming at least 30 grams of dietary fiber daily but unfortunately most people do not even come close to that number on an average day. Most of your fiber will come from eating a combined total of 5 vegetables and fruits per day. When food shopping look for food with 4 or more grams of dietary fiber listed on the nutrition label. Most labels describe whether the fiber is insoluble or soluble. Both forms of dietary fiber are healthy but each serves their own purpose. Soluble fiber, which can be found in oatmeal and beans, can help lower cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber, which is found in whole grains, vegetables and fruits, may help digestion.
Now that I have shared with you the way to read and understand nutrition labels I hope this will help you to make better choices. Do you feel like you will now foods shop with more confidence in your decisions?
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